Being “mindful” means stopping and seeing things clearly, as they really are, before choosing a direction; accepting the complexities of the situation and acting accordingly; and showing empathy to yourself and those you lead as you engage with them to tame complexity and move ahead. This sounds soft—but it’s actually quite hard.
Mindfulness provides an important anchor to traditional strategic and organizational problem solving. Have a look at two cases that illustrate my approach in the context of a board wishing to improve its relations with its CEO and a physician practice experiencing growing pains.
Here are some of the areas of mindful awareness I’ve focused on in the last decade and now work with my clients to cultivate:
- Understanding personal and professional satisfaction, as well as discontent
- Being clear about the intentions motivating your actions—what must happen to regain or maintain equilibrium
- Sorting out perceived and real obstacles to realizing these intentions
- Confronting the realities of the current situation and the actual degrees of freedom to act
- Accepting whatever needs to happen and then acting consistent with this understanding.
When we get stuck in our heads and fail to create enough space to consider our thoughts (including our wants, needs, emotions, and biases) our egos speak and people tend not to listen. They hear us as inauthentic, overly directive, maybe unrealistic, and probably not caring about their needs and interests.
The stories we tell ourselves and others must be grounded in greater awareness of our own and others’ present situations, or we cannot hope to engage them in the important work that needs to get done.